A Happy New Year to everyone in Eastbourne and Willingdon. Despite the high Covid infection rates in the country, I believe 2022 will be a much better year as we continue to win the battle against the virus.
The challenges are to ensure our town continues its recovery from the pandemic and that we protect the tourism and hospitality industries so vital to our local economy. This is mission critical along with help and support for our language schools as the world starts to open up and foreign travel becomes easier.
In continuing support, the Government has set up further Hospitality Grants for businesses hit by Omicron to access. The application process is now open and anyone who thinks they are eligible should contact Eastbourne Borough Council.
We have much to be positive about as we start the new year. We have a record number of job vacancies, a brilliant vaccination programme, fewer covid restrictions than many countries and the fastest growing economy in the G7. I am sure there will be setbacks as we fight Covid and push the return to normal, but the situation continues to improve.
This week saw MPs return to Westminster and a packed legislative agenda for the coming 12 months.
I’m on the Dormant Assets Bill committee in January examining this legislation line by line. Its aim is to extend the existing Dormant Assets Scheme which enables banks and building societies to channel funds from dormant bank and building society accounts towards good causes. The Government wants to expand the scheme to include assets like pensions, insurance, investment and wealth management and securities sectors to be used for public benefit. The original asset owners’ legal right to reclaim the amount transferred into the scheme will be protected. A good proportion of an MP’s work in Westminster is sitting on these bill committees scrutinising proposed laws. It’s important work and I am looking forward to playing my part.
As well as back to Parliament, it may be back to school too. I have stepped up to teach on a constituency Friday should local secondary schools been hard hit by Omicron absence. It’s vital for young people schools are kept open and it’s important for parents too. The Secretary of State has put out a call to arms to former and retired teachers across the land and including Eastbourne. If you could answer that urgent call too, please go to the government’s Get Into Teaching website to find out how.
I had my booster vaccine this week at The Beacon in a highly efficient service. It was administered by a very kind nurse (you may remember how much I like needles!) who had served four decades in the NHS but came out of retirement to be part of this vital programme. She is one of many shining stars.
And finally, the curtain falls this week on the valiant cast and crew who saw our brilliant panto through this season at the Devonshire Park Theatre. It was just as fabulously colourful as ever.
There can be no greater example that the show does go on in Eastbourne